Marine Life News Bulletin

December 2006

ISSN 1464-8156

On-line connection to the British Marine Life Study Society web pages
Index for the Torpedo News Bulletins
Link to the forum for marine wildlife of the NE Atlantic Ocean and adjoining seas
GATEWAY:  Further European Links
New EMail address
Courses (Marine Life)
Discussion Groups
Marine Information Service
(Marine Life Information Network)
Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database
National Biodiversity Gateway
National Biodiversity Network
World Oceans Day
Link to the Cornish Marine Life Reports (by Ray Dennis) for 2005
Link to an on-line page for younger students of the seashore. Spider Crab and youngsters at Adur World Oceans Day 2002 (Photograph by Duncan Morrison)
7-14 years

Norwegian Marine***

National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth

Scottish Association for Marine Science

Silver Dolphin Centre, Helston, Cornwall

Link to the Porcupine Society web pages

Marine Life Society
South Australia ***

De Strandwerkgemeenschap




Monthly electronic news bulletin for the marine life of the NE Atlantic Oceans including the seas and seashore around the British Isles.
The bulletin is designed for Microsoft Explorer 4 and above using medium fonts at a resolution of 800 x 600 and can be viewed satisfactorily at a resolution of 1024 x 768.
Subscribe and unsubscribe options are at the foot of this page.
If you receive this bulletin as an EMail subscriber, you may find the best way to view the file is on your hard disc in your directory of Incoming EMails.


Reports of marine wildlife from all around the British Isles, with pollution incidents and conservation initiatives as they affect the flora and fauna of the NE Atlantic Ocean.

20 December 2006
Janthina (Photograph by Paul Semmens) Janthina (Photograph by Paul Semmens)

Three Violet Sea Snails, Janthina, were discovered on Marazion beach in south Cornwall.

Report and Photographs by Paul Semmens on the Cornish Mailing List

18-20 December 2006

Gulfweed Crab (Photograph by Paul Semmens)

A scour of the strandline between Sennen and Gwenver on the west coast of Cornwall near Land's End discovered about fifty Violet Sea Snails, Janthina, seven dead Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus. and one Gulfweed Crab, Planes minutus, on a polystyrene float covered with Goose Barnacles, and two Skate egg cases.

Report by Paul Elliott and Paul Semmens on the Cornish Mailing List

Three Violet Sea Snails from Marazion on 20 December 2006 (Photograph by Paul Semmens)

17 December 2006
Twenty Violet Sea Snails, Janthina, were discovered along the beach at Woolacombe, North Devon. Most were about 10 mm in size, and some were still alive with their bubble rafts and "inked" when placed in a bucket.  They were washed in with tiny (max 12 mm) By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, Buoy Barnacles, Dosima fascicularis, and a small 15 cm Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus

BMLSS Beachcombing
16 December 2006
A badly decomposed Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was washed ashore on Selsey beach, West Sussex. There was much remaining of this large turtle, but the distinctive outer shell and at least one flipper is seen in the photograph by Justin Atkinson.
Photograph by Justin Atkinson
It is extremely unusual for a turtle up this far east up the English Channel on the northern coast.
Report by Justin Atkinson via Ivan Lang (West Sussex CC)
BMLSS Turtles

14 December 2006
At Sennen, Cornwall, two species of Violet Sea-snails, Janthina janthina and Janthina pallida, as well as two sea beans Entada gigas and Caesalpina bondoc were discovered on the strandline.
Report by Paul Gainey via Stella Turk
on the Cornish Mailing List

Chinese Mitten Crab

Chinese Mitten Crabs, Eriocheir sinensis, have been confirmed as by-catch from white fish fisheries in the Dee estuary, north-west Wales. 
The alien Mitten Crabs were probably accidentally introduced in ballast water and have become established in the Thames and adjoining rivers and in the Mersey estuary. They cause a huge amount of damage to the tidal and lower freshwater sections of rivers as they burrow into riverbanks causing them to collapse and silt up. Further pressure is also put on our wildlife as these crabs out compete native species. These crabs must spend the juvenile part of their life cycle in freshwater but must return to the sea to breed. 

BMLSS Crabs of the Seashore

13 December 2006
The gales of the preceding week also brought in the remains of a Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, on to at Widemouth Bay near Bude in north Cornwall.

BMLSS Turtles

12 & 13 December 2006
On the shore at Upton Towans (near Hayle), Cornwall, three Gulfweed Crabs, Planes minutus, (also known as the Floating Crab and Columbus Crab) were discovered living among Goose Barnacle bases on a polystyrene float; and on the second day at Perranporth six of these tiny crabs were found on a plastic barrel and one on a plastic float.

Report by Paul Gainey via Stella Turk
on the Cornish Mailing List
Earlier Crab Report

December 2006
Two deep water sea stars were recorded and collected by a ROV submersible, the first a beige species with short arms (like a cushion star) from a depth of around 250 metres off west Norway, and the second similar one from a depth of 600 metres in a Norwegian fjord at an earlier date. Neither of these species have been positively identified at time of writing.
Full Report with the Links to Images

The species are suggested as Peltaster placenta and Diplopteraster multipes.

BMLSS Echinoderms

12 December 2006
A large 20 kg Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola, was washed up dead on the north Kent coast. The height of this round fish was measured at 98 cm (including the fins). Sunfish are frequently found stranded on the western and southern coasts of Britain, but much less often on North Sea coasts.

Full Report

11 December 2006
A surprising discovery of an Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola, from the Baltic coast of southern Sweden, means this fish must have navigated through the narrow parts of the Kattegat. It was a smallish specimen with a total length of 60 cm. 

Report from Kent Andersson
BMLSS Sunfish

1 - 9 December 2006
The prevailing winds of autumn and the recent gales have washed more unusual pelagic animals on to the shore (with the millions of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, and multiple thousands of Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera) notably the small (size of a 10 pence piece) pelagic Columbus Crabs, Planes minutus, with five discovered on the Dorset coast at Southbourne (near Bournemouth) and a further 15 at Hengistbury Head, Dorset. The latter was discovered inside a large shipworm-riddled, Teredo, pole in cavities created by the tiny burrowing mollusc. The Columbus Crabs were found with the Goose Barnacles and there are clues that the buoys, wooden pallets, fish boxes etc. have been floating around the Atlantic Ocean for two years or more and are American in origin. The live crabs were placed in the aquarium at the Foundation Marine Centre at Kimmeridge.

Report by Steve Trewhella

Another probable Columbus Crab, Planes minutus, was discovered by crab potter Chris Marquis near Herm and Sark in the Channel Islands amongst a tray of Goose Barnacles

These crabs are rarely recorded pelagic life with British records only from the extreme west coasts, with the only Cornish records of the crab coming from the 19th century. 
Planes minutus is also called theGulf-weed Crab because the largest population of this abundant crab is believed to inhabit the open Atlantic Ocean area known as the Sargasso Sea.
Previous Report from the Channel Islands
Previous Report from Belgium

2 December 2006
My dog discovered a strange fish partially buried on the North Gare Sands, Hartlepool, (near the power station) part of the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve; the fish was one metre long, 30 cms wide and laterally very thin with a tapering tail. I have identified this fish as a Deal Fish, Trachipterus arcticus

Report by Colin Hatch
The Deal Fish is a deep sea fish which very occasionally is washed up on the shore. 
Previous Report

November 2006
At least two specimens of the large pelagic swimming crab known as Henslow's Swimming Crab, Polybius henslowii, were brought in by a commercial fisherman from Poole Bay. This crab is an active predator of small fish and is usually found over deep water further south. The same weather conditions which have brought in the By-the-wind Sailors are likely to have blown this crab into the shallow bay. 

Report by Steve Trewhella

Velella on Eastern Green, between Penzance and Long Rock, Cornwall
Photographs by Paul Semmens

26 November 2006
Thousands of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, were washed up on Welsh beaches, notably a narrow but continuous line of Velella velella washed up on the high tide mark at Borthwen, Rhoscolyn, Anglesey (southern end of Ynys Cybi - Holy Island), north Wales (Ian Wright); literally thousands stranded on a small bay at the Mumbles, Swansea (Jess Pitman); a swarm amounting to about two hundred were washed up on Porthllysgi beach off the coast of St. Davids in south west Wales (Eleri Davies) with hundreds, possibly thousands, stranded and dead on the pebbles on the nearby Newgale Beach (Helen Lee); thousands, if not millions, of By-the-wind Sailors were washed up on a beach at Criccieth (on the southern coast of the Lleyn Peninsula), Gwynedd, north Wales (Eilir Daniels); and an armada, a thick layer of jellyfish about a metre thick on the strandline in both directions at Cefn Sidan Beach at Pembrey, south west Wales (Bella).
BMLSS Velella
Velella (Photograph by Helen Lee) Velella (Photograph by Bella)

24 November 2006
Reports of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, have been received from north Devon and Guernsey.

19 November 2006
A large number, probably several hundred, of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, were washed up on beach at Newborough, on the southern cost of the Isle of Anglesey, north Wales.

Report by Tony Skinner

18 November 2006
Thousands of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, were reported being washed up on Saunton, Croyde and Woolacombe beaches in North Devon. All were noted as being of the same size, whereas in the past some had been tiny (finger nail size and smaller) plus larger colonies, all of the recent colonies were 50 - 75 mm across.

9 November 2006
A Tadpole Fish, Raniceps raninus, was caught from Bangor Pier, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.
Image (link)

Report and Image on the flickr British Marine Life Gallery
BMLSS Tadpole Fish

2 November 2006
After a period of warm southerly and south-westerly winds, the weather changed. Strong colder winds came from the north-east and an easterly direction. By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, entered St. Peter Port harbour on Guernsey's east coast, driven in by the wind. Commercial fisherman Clive Brown called to tell me that about 25 Velella velella were washed up on the shore near his dinghy in the harbour. I went down to the Albert marina and I was able to collect four Velella velella by reaching out from a pontoon. 


Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Mailing Groups

With the closure of Smart Groups planned for the end of November 2006, this has presented a time consuming and rather awkward problem for me.

In short, there is no easy method to save the 7500+ messages, the hundreds of files, and images and the few databases and other information from disappearing when Smart Groups actually closes.

I have tried to transfer the messages to

Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Jiglu

but I am afraid that a few of the messages have been lost. I do not know which ones. The images have not been transferred. 

For ongoing messages please transfer to the Yahoo forum as I think you will find that easier to use.
Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Yahoo Group
New Group:

Images can be uploaded to flickr.



All reports by Andy Horton unless the credits are given 
to other observers or reporters.

Cornish Marine Wildlife (Ray Dennis Records) 2005


Each month, at least one special marine image will be published from images sent to the BMLSS. This can be of the seashore, undersea world or any aspect of the marine natural world, especially the underwater life, but not restricted to life beneath the waves. Topical inclusions may be included instead of the most meritorious, and images will be limited to the NE Atlantic Ocean and adjoining seas, marine and seashore species and land and seascapes.

Photographs can now be directly uploaded to:



Shore Topography Series

The name of the particular coast should be included and the grid reference, if known. Print photographs can be included in Exhibitions and on the BMLSS Web Sites and electronic publications. Electronic images in *.JPG format can also be considered for the web site. They should not exceed 200K in size.

Shore Topography Portfolio

flickr Coastal Images
Species Study

Squid (Photograph by Philip Jones)

18 December 2006

This one metre long squid was found on the beach at Chalkwell, near Southend, Essex.

Photograph by Philip Jones

Report by Phil Stubbs
It is almost certainly one of the Loligo species.

BMLSS Squids and Eggs

Photographers submitting pictures should indicate if they wish them to be considered for inclusion as confirming permission takes work and time and can delay publication of the news bulletins. 

Link to more marine life photographs

Click on the album for more links (On-line link)




In chronological order, the most recent events are at the top of the page. Events open to the public, free or for a nominal charge only are included. Most Seminars need to be booked in advance.

See the venues for talks and activities in the left hand column.
Click on the images (on-line) for the latest information.

BIOSIS  Conference Calendar for Zoology

(Major Link of all biological conferences around the world)

 Public Aquaria List
?  What to do if you find a stranded whale or dolphin  ?

If you find a LIVE stranded or injured whale or dolphin on the beach you must send for help QUICKLY. A whale or dolphin stranding is an emergency and the speed of response by a professional rescue team is perhaps the most crucial factor in determining whether or not an animal can be returned to the sea alive.

0300 1234 999
0300 1234 999
0131 339 0111
0845 201 2626
01534 724331
00 44 1481 257261

British Divers Marine Life Rescue
01825  765546




The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom launched a new full colour magazine, GLOBAL MARINE ENVIRONMENT in 2005, which will appeal to people who wish to read accurate, interesting and entertaining articles about the world's oceans and its inhabitants.
Much of the source material for this new magazine is the Journal of the Marine Biological Association (JMBA). Whereas the journal is full of excellent scientific papers, GLOBAL MARINE ENVIRONMENT takes some of the most interesting studies and, in full colour, writes a more understandable summary of the findings.

The first issue of Global Marine Environment may be purchased in hard copy for £1.75 (see below) or downloaded from the web at the following

Information provided by Richard Lord (Guernsey)


Coastal Plankton 
Photo Guide for European Seas

by Otto Larink & Wilfried Westheide

reviewed by Wim van Egmond

ISBN  0-9522831-5-8

Available from:



Eastern English Channel Habitat Atlas for Marine Resource Management
is available for download from

Encyclopaedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland

Marine Fauna of Norway

BMLSS: Marine Life Articles in Publications (Link)

The British Marine Life Study Society are responsible for producing the journal GLAUCUS, which is the first publication exploring the marine life of the seas surrounding the British Isles available to the general public. 

EMail Address

New EMail addressEMail address for messages to the British Marine Life Study Society 


Membership 2006
Plans have not yet been finalised for the publications and subscriptions for year 2006. 

How to Join

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Printing the two column version of Torpedo (from issue 28)

These pages are not designed for the default settings on the Page Set-ups of your browser. I recommend viewing in Microscope Internet Explorer 6 and altering the right and left hand columns in the Page Set-up menu to 9 mm (from 19 mm).
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Torpedo compiled by Andy Horton
Background design by Andy Horton and other contributors

       22 December 2006

Compiled on Netscape Composer 4.7 and other programs
Boar Fish, Capros aperLen NevellMarc AbrahamJohn KnightUrchin fossil (out of scale) dating the pebbles at 85 million years oldMermaid's PursesPeter Talbot-ElsdenCharlie DimmickAndy HortonSamanthaThe crab was called Rooney because of its missing leg. Nobody asked about the brain cells of a crab?